“Look up to us. Yes, not down - up. There are many who underestimate us, think us weak and impuissant because of our stature and physical strength - I hope you are wise enough not to be one of them. I suggest you instead to look deeper than that - beneath our frail forms and beneath our scales. My people are not known for our skill in the arts of the arcane. That is true. But we believe in magic - not because we utilise it, but because it is within us. We believe in the arcane fire that burns in our hears, the draconic power that flows in our blood. Some say we are nothing without our machines. Ha! Small or large, weak or strong, with or without steamwork, we are the true children of the dragons, and we will endure.”
- - Lord Protector Arken-Lak
The Klaxxa (a corruption of Eorthisc Clæg-snaha, meaning clay serpent) are a Kelodhros race that currently inhabits the Ar-Klith Mountains of central Koldenwelt. Favoured scions of the Earth Colossus Korddraigen, mother of all dragonkind, the Klaxxa lack the brute strength and majesty of draconic races, but are rather a crafty, industrious race, gifted with great intellect, cunning and inventiveness. Skilled miners, smiths and engineers, masters of iron, stone, gunpowder and steam, the Klaxxa have been at the spearhead of Koldenwelt's scientific advancement for centuries, and their Ar-Klith Sky Empire is one of the most prominent great powers of Koldenwelt.
Another thing that sets Klaxxa apart from the rest of the dragons of Koldenwelt is their ancestry and diversity thereof: though usually small and similar in appearance to lesser Kelodhros or even Theriocephali, the nobles of Ar-Klith and especially the matriarchs have a significant portion of True Dragon blood flowing in their veins, and possess more pronounced draconic features and abilities. Blood purity is seen as an important facet of Klaxxa society, especially by its aristocracy, and the High Clans of the Sky Empire have been obsessive in their quest for eservation of both their draconic lineage and their lofty position - much to the chagrin of the lower classes.
As one of the elder races of Koldenwelt, and because of their sheer obsession with progression and the future, often to the detriment of the past, the Klaxxa have little recollection of their ancient history. Thus, even though their history spans at the very least six millenia, the only Klaxxa sources that predate the Old Age are either genealogical records that shed little light on actual history, or sacred scriptures, treated by the majority of Koldenwentians as exaggerations at best and myths at worst.
According to the latter, the Klaxxa were known in their true, original form as the Claeg-snaha, or clay-snakes. Powerful and magical creatures, the Claeg-snaha were allegedly kin of the Earth Drakes of yore, and thus by proxy True Dragons, spawned by the Earth Collosus, Kordraiggen, in the clay deserts not far away from what is now Abyssus. Much like the Earth Drakes with their thick hides and cold, stoic minds represented the unmoving stone of mountains and rocks, the Klaxxa's ancestors were creatures of clay and soil: swift, nimble, clever and malleable. While their larger cousins shaped mountains and caverns, the Claeg-snaha dedicated themselves to smaller, finer works. With their claws and their magic they gave shape to fjords and islets, protected small mountain rivers and lakes, rendered barren rock soft and fertile.
With their lithe bodies borne for flying and their quick minds perfect for dialogue and communication, the clay-snakes also served as Korddraigen's favourite messengers, and during the first war against Caligaduro Provectus travelled far and wide to spread the Earth Queen's words. They were particularily close at the time with the lordly Ordnung, who, being creatures of the earth themselves, revered Korddraigen and treated her messengers with great respect. It is also said that it was then that the Claeg-snaha first began mating with others of the dragonkind, creating hybrids of all kinds - like clay-snakes in form and mind, but with abilities inherited from their elemental forebears.
Then, long after the war was over, came the savage Shiarchon, who sought to reach Abyssus and claim its dark powers. Korddraigen and her children stood in their way, but it was not enough. With dark, unspeakable powers under their command, the Shiarchon engulfed the entire desert in flames, destroying everything on their path. The Queen of Earth was the first on their path of carnage, sacrificing herself to halt the invaders and thus, let her children live. Before dying, she had left her last command for the Claeg-snaha: they were to flee from their dying home and find refuge north, under the cold mountains of Ar-Klith, where their allies lived. However, they were not welcomed there. Over the centuries, the kobolds of the mountains had become cold, cruel, and treacherous, and decided to slaughter the clay-snakes and use their magic for their own purposes rather than give them refuge. The hordes of the Cobalt Kingdom began systematically hunting down and killing the clay-snakes, and then siphoning their energy to power their arcane machines.
Naturally, the dragons fought back, and soon, the resulting bloodbath painted Ar-Klith red. The cold, heartless engineering of Ordnung magitech and the mechanical power of their empire was unleashed in its entirety, pitted against the ancient magic of the dragons. The sagas of the Klaxxa describe the battles of that age in graphic detail, showing the might of the ancients in all their glory, though even their own scholars doubt the veracity of their claims; few believe even Korddraigen herself, let alone her children, could create mountains with a single stomp of their claws, or to creat lakes of lava to drown their enemies in flame. Neverthless, the result of the war is evident: it, along with the rebellion of the Dweorg, resulted in the annihilation of the Cobalt Kingdom and the almost complete extermination of the Ordnung people.
But the Claeg-snaha did not emerge from the bloody conflict unscathed. As the sagas say, the cruelty of the Ordnung was so great that only a handful of the clay-snakes remained, too few to sustain their species anymore. Thus, it is said, the great wyrms departed, flying beyond the Great Eastern Wall never to return, save for one - the only female among the survivors, the Empress of the First Age. Having laid a few clutches of eggs under Ar-Klith, she stayed to nurture them so that her species could live. However, the small lizards that hatched from her eggs were not true Claeg-snaha anymore. So so twisted and wounded became their souls from the bloodshed, so corrupted was their blood from the war, that it now bred small, stunted creatures rather than true Kelodhros, with only a single female in every clutch retaining a sliver of the original wyrms' grace and power. However, a fraction of their old draconic blood still remained in these new creatures - each of the clutches preserving some of the True Dragons' traits.
Thus say the Klaxxa sagas - whatever of this is true is unknown, but it is around this legend that the Klaxxa's entire culture is born. The belief that the Klaxxa were once powerful dragons is the cornerstone of their empire, the justification behind their conquests and the reason for their successes; it is also the rationale behind the house system and their belief in blood purity, done out of a relgious belief and the houses' ostensible goal to eventually breed the old draconic species back into existence. Other scholars have proposed different origins for the Klaxxa species: that they were Ordnung experiments with draconic blood, that they were hybrids of dragons and lacertillian Theriocephali, or that they were Ordnung themselves, having interbred with dragons to survive. The Klaxxa, of course, deny such bold and unfounded claims.
The Old Age
The War for the Eye
The New Age
Klaxxa do not differ much from their Kelodhros brethren, being humanoid reptiles with long horns, ashen serpentine scales that over time become bonier and lighter, and large bat-like wings. They are, however, easily distinguishable from other dragons by their dimunitive size. Klaxxa who stand over 1,4 meter tall are considered to be giants among their species (because of this, Klaxxa are often called "Dragonlings" by their draconic kindred such as Draonoggr). Their frames are fragile, lithe, their bones hollow and lightweight - like birds - and in terms of physical strength are puny even compared to Deiwos, let alone other draconic races.
However, Klaxxa also possess suprising endurance, and are superb fliers who can fly for hours or even days without tiring or having to land. Sky Empire settlements are thus often separated by hundreds or thousands of miles, with no roads between them: their denizens simply do not need them. Wares that are too large for Klaxxa to transport are hauled either by zeppelins or animated gargoyles created by the Alchemist Union. Much like all draconic races, Klaxxa also possesses unusual breathing abilities; however, instead of fire, they instead exhale superheated gas, similar to steam, that can be used not only to kill but also to power machines, turbines and centrifuges. This unusual ability, said to be inherited from Kordraiggen herself, is said to have been an inspiration for the Klaxxa's most famous invention, the steam engine.
Normally, Klaxxa do not show great sexual dimorphism; outside of clothing, head frills and some subtle differences in facial features that only other Kelodhros may notice, Klaxxa women are indistinguishable from men. Klaxxa sense of fidelity is strong, and they typically bond for life, giving birth to one or two hatchlings in their life. However, certain Klaxxa females (usually the oldest siblings in their clutches) are known to grow unnaturally large for their species once they reach sexual maturity, more similar both in size and body shape to True Drakes. Such Klaxxa, who can lay more than ten eggs at once and thus are thus essential for the population growth of the race, are called Matriarchs. Because of their important role in society, their long lifespan (measured in centuries) and their wisdom, Matriarchs are highly respected in the Sky Empire and typically hold high positions in the Aewitan.
It is said that in the ancient times, Klaxxa were powerful mages, able to harness the power of earth itself. Now that Korddraiggen the Earth Mother is dead, however, the Klaxxa are a magically inept race, with little capacity to harness the Source directly other than through their natural draconic abilities. The fact that Klaxxa usually do not live for long does not help, either, for learning magic can take decades, even centuries.
There is a form of magic that Klaxxa know and are adept at, however, one that was, in fact, invented by them: alchemy. As this sorcerous art does not involve harnessing the Source directly, only through items and metals, the Dragonlings have mastered it with ease: now, alchemy is taught as one of the main subjects in many universities of the Sky Empire.
“You can fly really fast, don't you? Bah! I'll make a machine that can fly twice as fast as you Draonoggr filth! And it will carry passengers - dozens, no, hundreds of them! And it will breathe fire. And it won't need food. And it will- ah, what did you say?”
- - Lord Zolxen-Lak, the inventor of the Klaxxa Zeppelin.
There is one thing that defines the Klaxxa, one thing that reigns over their life, gives them purpose and drives them: progress. Klaxxa that are not involved in science or craft, such as soldiers or clerics, are often ostracised by their comrades, even if their jobs are essential to society. Miners, artisans and inventors are, at the other hand, respected greatly by the Klaxxa, and to become one is a great honour. This honour goes beyond mere solidarity and has a religious origin, owing to the Dragonlings' ancestry that they share with the great Earth Drakes of yore; earth, rock, and all that comes from it is divine to them - born by Korddraigen, the Arch-Matriarch of all Dragonkind.
The Klaxxa's society is aristocratic in nature, ruled by a plethora of noble houses known collectively as the Aewitan. However, compared to human and elven societies, Klaxxa give far more room for social mobility: it is not uncommon for a Klaxxa to be promoted into a noble by making a notorious invention or by accumulating large amounts of wealth through trading. The Klaxxa are also known for their democratic traditions, and a large portion of their (extremely convoluted) government system is ran by elected officials. The de-facto ruler of the Sky Empire (de-jure, it is said to be ruled by God King Arddraigr) is the Lord Protector, who reigns for life and is in turn elected and restrained by the Imperial Parliament. This position is currently held by Arkendhain Lakweonn.
Due to their shared draconic heritage and penchant for craftsmanship, the Klaxxa have a friendly rivalry with the Draonoggr of the Orocathi Domain, and their artisans often compete. Both races have a certain degree of disdain for each other: Draonoggr look down at the Klaxxa for being weak, tiny and short-lived, and Klaxxa, in turn, believe that their bigger cousins are nothing but arrogant snobs who are out of sync with the modern world. Neverthless, the two Kelodhros races are still close allies. Other races are treated by the dragonlings with a mix of snobbish contempt and scientific curiosity; literature detailing the life of Klaxxa explorers and merchants among 'the ancient & sophisticated elves, the savage & noble centaurs, the humans, our most whimsical imitators' are quite popular in Arkenholdt.
The language Klaxxa speak, Undertongue, is the ancestor of Eastern Koldenwelt's lingua franca, New Common. Although the two tongues are mutually intelligible, the former possesses greater prestige, and a Klaxxa speaker will find their, say, human or elven interlocutor's speech crude and unrefined - and will sound snobbish and sophisticated to the point of arrogance to them. This difference in pronouncation and vocabulary is translated in-universe as Recieved Pronounciation.
The Klaxxa are not a militant people, and are not known for their warrior prowess, being small and relatively frail. However, their technology and industry means that Klaxxa, if attacked, can defend themselves effectively. Mortars, organ guns, flying warships, rockets, alchemical golems - with Klaxxa inventiveness, everything is possible.
The Sky Empire's Armed Forces are split into two roughly equal parts: the Air Fleets and the Ar-Klith Royal Guard. The latter is meant to protect the Empire's holdings, and as such boasts powerful artillery and well-trained infantry, while the former, meant to ensure the successful colonisation of a certain territory (which might sometimes involve natives being enslaved, driven away or even outright eradicated), are instead built for hit-and-run attacks, utilising the Klaxxa's natural speed and their ability to fly.
The Ar-Klith Sky Empire's domain is spread all over Koldenwelt, and its trading outposts, colonies and dominions can be found nearly everywhere, from the Northern Regions to the Abyssus Borderlands. These colonies are connected by zeppelins and other flying machines, allowing Klaxxa to keep their empire in one piece despite being rather thinly spread. Normally, Klaxxa settle in mountains, from where it would be easy to transport goods and build quarries and mines, although there are some exceptions, such as the infamous Fort Gorrinholdt.
Most of the colonies of the Sky Empire have no autonomy whatsoever, being governed by viceroys sent from Ar-Klith directly. The most developed of them, however, have won (often through warfare) their right to choose their own governors, among them Wyrmholdt and Azdaholdt. The capital of the Empire is Arkenholdt, also known as the City of Cogs or the City of Smoke (for its technology and its industry, respectively), which is built within the dormant volcano of Kar-Naxaldt.
The Klaxxa are, without doubt, one of the most technologically advanced cultures of Koldenwelt. Harnessing the power of steam and gunpowder, Klaxxa inventor's creations often resemble magic more than craft: lifelike clockwerk dolls that walk like they were alive, zeppelins that hover through the sky, massive steam engines that move the wheels of industry. All these inventions have made the Klaxxa a source of fear and awe.
Unlike such civilisations as the Legion of Shiarchon, where technology mostly serves military purposes, Klaxxa utilise their machines practically everywhere. This both increases and decreases their quality of life, for their inventions both give the Klaxxa the power to survive the lightless depths of Ar-Klith and poisons their cities with fumes of industry. It is said that no non-Klaxxa can live in Arkenholdt, the capital of the Sky Empire, for the smog inside it will kill anyone that is not used to live in such hellish conditions from birth.
Ar-Klith Sky Empire
“Ar-Klith confides that every Klaxxa will do his duty.”
- Name - Arkendhain
- Clan - O'Lakweonn
- Position - Lord Protector
- Age - 30
- Status - Active
Arkendhain O'Lakweonn, known informally as Arken-Lak is the current Lord Protector of the Ar-Klith Sky Empire. A member of an ancient, wealthy noble family and a veteran of the War for the Eye, Arken came to power shortly after the war was over, replacing his predecessor, Kaldenas Tanwinn, who had been deposed prematurely as a result of his corrupt and incompetent governance. Supported by the nobles and the common people equally, the new Lord Protector has ruled Ar-Klith ever since, the witness and mastermind of the Sky Empire's quick expansion in the aftermath of the conflict.
Among his subjects, Arken-Lak is known as a cold, austere yet noble ruler and a fervent believer in Colossus Arddraigr who is strongly determined to preserve the shaky peace in the post-Shiarchon Koldenwelt. The truth, however, is much more complicated: beneath the mask of a patriot lies a Machiavellian schemer and imperialist who is more than willing to commit rather unsavoury acts in order to remain in power and exert his control over the Klaxxa people.
“We are... not amused, are we? ...Actually, I am most certain we are.”
- Name - Drytkwén Yinreinn
- Clan - Laxandsar
- Position - Duchess
- Age - 120
- Status - Active
Drytkwén Yinreinn Laxandsar is a Klaxxa Matriarch and one of the oldest nobles of the Ar-Klith Empire still in existence. Blessed with both political savvy, affinity with the Source, and a genius which is only dwarfed by her eccentricity, she is the ruler and matriarch of the Laxandsar clan, one of the most influential Klaxxa families which she herself promoted to noblehood with her breakthroughs in alchemical sciences and later led through the war and the subsequent ascent of the Ar-Klith Sky Empire. Although formerly a public figure and a mover and shaker on Arkenholdt's political scene, Drytkwén has became somewhat seclusive - as well as even more eccentric - in the recent years, leaving the worldly affairs to her many descendants while devoting herself to the study of the Source.
What exactly Drytkwén does in the depths of her manor which stands atop the highest peaks of Ar-Klith is known only to herself. Some claim that she develops secret alchemagical weaponry for the Lord Protector to use against the enemies of the Sky Empire, while others believe that she seeks knowledge of the other planes of existence, such as the Outworld, the Void, and the yawning, unfathomable abyss from which the pantheon of the Zazanite Cult came from. Ultimately, the only definite answer lies inside the Matriarch's warped mind - an enigma even to her children.
“I am the very model of the modern Klaxxa alchemist.”
- Name - Lekrenad
- Clan - Laxandsar
- Position - Peer
- Age - 25
- Status - Active
An adventurer and a gentleman, Lekrenad Laxandsar is the youngest son of Matriarch Drytkwén-Lax. Having inherited a portion of his famous mother's alchemical genius - but not her insanity, thankfully - Lekrenad quickly made himself known among the Klaxxa people for his talents. The young Klaxxa had other yearnings, though, for he possessed a heart of an adventurer - and, what was more important, no money in his pockets - and thus joined the ranks of the many Klaxxa explorers who traverse Koldenwelt in search of new lands to colonise with courageous composure in the face of adversity.
Intrepid and curious with an insatiable hunger for knowledge, Lekren-Lax has been sighted all over Koldenwelt, from the frozen Forgotten Lands to the fiery lands to the South.
- Orocathi Domain - True dragoncraft persists!.. but our dragoncraft is still superior.
- Urindalё - We're proud to call you allies, Frost Elves.
- Merovar Dynasty - Your treasures are nonpareil.
- Khep Dominion - Our allegiance lies with the Sultan.
- Sovereignty of Dryada - Tradition and Sourcecraft cannot hinder innovation and progress.
- Min Lagosi - Hm.
- City State of Yosae - Interesting...
- Empire of Man - Xenophoby is tantamount with self-destruction, knavish Deiwos.
- Legion of Shiarchon - Confound you!
- The Outworld - We stand resolute, undead. Danger shall never befall upon the city of Gorrinholdt!
- Zazanite Cult - Savages!
“They are a mighty nation... for nonhumans, of course.”
- - King Alexis IV
“You poison the land. We feel her pain...”
- - Chieftain Krovimir
“Your mechanisms will rust and your flesh will rot.”
- - Lich Lord Praetinnath
“Do not underestimate the value of a hand-crafted artifact, little kin. Care is a quality all of its own”
- - Draokorumnoggr artisan
“Small bones are still bones, and as dragons, you must join me!”
- - Kimorgos
“They have flying things...that shoot gas!”
- - A Caxildiz
“I remember when you were wizards of the earth. Times sure have changed.”
- - Vectrom
“Little brothers look funny and cute. Their craft is admirable however.”
- - Brandox
“Classem, arma, tela non salvabit te de ineluctabile fatum rotis. (Your ships, weapons, wheels and bolts will not save you from your inevitable fate.)”
- - Legion of Shiarchon
“I don't care about the might of your machines. Set one claw in my river without my permission, and all the technology on Koldenwelt can't save you!”
- - A Bunyip